Given the current state of affairs, it’s hard not to imagine a post-apocalyptic world. I, for one, already have my nuclear warfare plan in order for when the worst goes down. But, it does help to see how fictional characters attempt to handle the same situation — how they deal with loss and death in a world where everyone is suffering. This fiction of a nuclear wasteland comes today in the form of THE GHOST BUTTERFLY. Written by Rick Quinn and drawn by Martyn Lorbiecki, this short narrative might not be a unique disaster tale but overall does the post-apocalyptic genre justice.

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Our story starts with a group of men excavating the wilderness with hazmat suits on. It then cuts to a single individual, someone we later learn is named David, as he returns to the shambles of human society. We see him cross off various areas on a map, as though he were searching for something. This entire section of the comic has no dialogue, just oppressive images of the tragic future.

In many ways, this comic tells its story best in what it doesn’t reveal to the reader. We don’t know if they live on earth or some planet like earth. All we know is that something happened prior to the event of the comic and it’s left the world devastated. Speaking of not knowing, not much is known about David either. In quite a few ways, he’s an empty shell. This apocalypse took a lot from him. The reader may only guess how he acted before the tragedies of his world unfolded.

THE GHOST BUTTERFLY
Image courtesy of Rick Quinn and Martyn Lorbiecki

Part of what I liked so much about this comic was how the creators managed to capture the tone of the story without the need for dialogue. The beautifully drawn backgrounds give enough of the tone with well-placed instances of seeing into David’s past. Even when David spends time in what passes for a city, there’s an overwhelming sense of despair in the remnants of human civilization.

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Apocalypse Now

The story of losing people in an apocalypse is a tale as old as time. Yet while this story remains firmly within the clutches of this trope, it does an amazing job telling that particular story. After all, not everyone needs to reinvent the wheel and redefine a genre. Sometimes, smaller stories of a depressed future hit the hardest.

That said, some components of this story borrow heavily from other apocalyptic narratives. Movies like NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND come to mind with the visuals of this piece, particularly with how much nature seems at odds with the remnants of the human societies. Even the use of color in THE GHOST BUTTERFLY seems to draw on that one movie. Though, aside from some nice visual references, this particular tragedy never gets fully explained. Some apocalypses enjoy pontificating on the nature of man and how their egos ruined the world. Though something bad occurred, the comic never delves into it, avoiding this preachy trope.

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Beauty in a Hopeless Place

Martyn Lorbiecki shows this apocalypse in a dangerously beautiful way. It’s clear that, while the outside world appears as a sublime natural landscape, it still teems with danger. Only the industrial interior of the city, a grungy rust-filled metropolis, is safe for human settlement. Even in the way the human characters appear — drawn much smaller and insignificant compared to the looming city and nature around them — shows who runs this world.

THE GHOST BUTTERFLY
Image courtesy of Rick Quinn and Martyn Lorbiecki

The tale of THE GHOST BUTTERFLY never overstays its welcome. It knows the sentiments it wishes to evoke in the reader and does so masterfully. With vivid images and print content, this tale deserves recognition from any fan of independent comics.

THE GHOST BUTTERFLY by Rick Quinn and Martyn Lorbiecki
Art
Plot
Characterization
Summary
THE GHOST BUTTERFLY hits the emotional moments it has to without appearing too heavy-handed.
85 %
Delightfully depressing

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